On 15 June, representatives from PRERA met with the Lambeth Council’s new Cabinet Member for Housing – Cllr Paul Gadsby. Also present were our local councillor Liz Atkins and several senior officers responsible for the council’s housing stock. At the meeting we discussed four key areas:
We felt that the meeting was a significant milestone in our campaign to get a better service from the council in these areas. Signs of progress include:
An acknowledgement from the council that Palace Road Estate has not been receiving the service it should from housing management.
A restructuring of the housing management service next month, with reallocation of housing officers to estates.
A written description of the service that we should expect from estate housing officers.
Recent surveys of the structural condition of the blocks of flats. This will inform future prioritisation of works across Lambeth.
The scheduling of an inspection of the estate by the incoming manager responsible for housing across the whole of Lambeth [carried out on 22 June].
A commitment that leaseholders would not be charged [directly] for work to rectify problems with the poorly constructed cladding for the water pipes that were installed in 2013.
An acknowledgment that water distribution around the site is failing and needs replacement. This was proposed to be included in the 2019/20 capital works programme.
A commitment to develop a policy for bulky waste disposal on council estates.
Prioritisation of Palace Road Estate in the placement of the council’s stock of mobile CCTV cameras (after Tulse Hill Estate), to deter fly-tipping.
Support from Cllr Gadsby for residents to have access to the community space within the new resource centre on Coburg Crescent.
An acknowledgement that the council needs to better engage with PRERA in future.
The committee has been informed of a hazard on the estate that we weren’t previously aware of – falling concrete. This can be added to the list of hazards that includes sheets of glass falling from the balconies, holes in the ground and disintegrating wooden and PVC boxing.
Apparently, the reinforcing rods within the concrete slabs in the blocks of flats are corroding, causing flakes of concrete to fall down. Please be aware of this hazard and do not spend time standing under such concrete lintels and balconies.
PRERA has asked the council when repair work will be carried out to this and other long-standing maintenance issues. We also asked how and when residents would be informed of health and safety hazards that had been identified by the council.
The PRERA committee have heard, informally, that the council is moving towards the renovation of the balconies across the estate. This is something that the committee has been campaigning for for years, due to their dangerously decrepit state.
We are told that a contractor has been chosen and will replace a small section of balustrade as a trail. We have enquired about whether planning permission is required and whether a Section 20 consultation should have been carried out. (If the cost is over £250 per leaseholder, then leaseholders must be consulted.) We will pass on further information when we hear it.
As Pinnacle PSG aren’t maintaining our lovely new raised beds (despite being paid to?) Rob has been weeding them. If you would like to help with making our estate an attractive place, do get in touch, or just have a go!
We have just received confirmation that our local MP Chuka Umunna will be visiting the estate this Friday. He is coming to meet residents of the estate to find out about our concerns. Representatives of the PRERA committee will be there, but all residents are welcome, so do come along. We will be walking around the estate, starting at the childrens’ play area at 2pm.
PRERA recently raised the dangerous state of the disused garages with the housing department. This was also taken up by Cllr Liz Atkins. As many of us know, the garages contain large amounts of rubbish, including flammable material, such as car tyres, mattresses and paint. There are also exposed electrical installations and, in some of the garages, frequent floods.
We were told, a few days ago, by our Estate Housing Officer, that the rubbish will be cleared from the garages. They will then be sealed, to prevent future access. We do not yet have a timescale for this.
In the longer term, PRERA will push to ensure that the garages are put back into use, either as garages, or for an alternative use. We can achieve this more easily if we know what the demand is for garages from residents. Please let us know if you would like to hire a garage on the estate, or if you have an idea for an alternative use for the garages.
For several years the play area has been open to dogs, because the springs on the gates had broken. After months of nagging by the committee, the springs have now been replaced, so children should now be able to play without worrying about dog mess.
Do you like what PRERA is doing? Would you like to join us in making the estate cleaner, greener and a friendlier place? Contact us!
Today Rob met with representatives from the council, UK Power Networks (UKPN) and Mitie to discuss the street lighting on the estate. As far as we know, there is only one street lamp that is currently not working – number 026. It was agreed that this would be reconnected to the supply by running a cable to the next lamp along the road.
We also discussed the missing posts numbered 001 and 005. Lamp 001 is at one end of Coburg Crescent and is much needed, so this will be replaced. To avoid obstructing the footpath, it will be installed in the flower bed. Lamp 005 has largely been made redundant by the installation of new flood lamps attached to Chalner House, so this will not be replaced. UKPN will disconnect the supply and Mitie will remove the stump.
Lambeth’s retrospective planning application for moving the heating pipes for the flats to the exterior walls has recently been decided. On 17th January 2017 permission was granted for this work. Most of the work has already been carried out several years ago, but the application also covers replacing the plywood cladding with painted metal cladding. This is because the wooden cladding was insufficiently weather resistant and is disintegrating.
One of the conditions on the decision notice is “All existing brown painted timber cladding shall be replaced with brown powder coated metal cladding within 6 months of the date of this decision.”, so work should commence soon.
More details can be found on the Lambeth Planning Applications Database. The reference number for the application is 16/05754/RG3 and it is called “Retrospective planning application for the retention of a new external heating distribution system and external pipework together with alterations to the pipe cladding installed to the external elevations of Ducaval, Baly, Ponton and Despard Houses on the Palace Road Estate. – Baly, Ponton, Ducavel And Despard Houses, Palace Road Estate London SW2”.
The committee has a long-standing campaign to encourage the council to maintain and repair the street lighting on the estate. While some progress has been made since our last blog post on this issue, there are still many problems. On our most recent survey of the lighting, carried out by Rob on 14th December 2016, lamps 021, 022, 031, 036, 039 and 040 were not working. Lamps 001, 004 and 005 were missing, having rusted through at the base and collapsed or having been hit by a vehicle.
On 3rd January, enquiries by Councillor Liz Atkins have elicited a response from Graham Statham (Maintenance Teams Manager, Technical Services) who has promised that the faulty lamps (021, 022, 031, 036, 039 and 040) will be repaired. No timescale was given and no reference was made to the replacement of the three missing lamps. The committee will continue to monitor the situation and chase, as necessary.